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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e57484. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0057484. Epub 2013 Feb 21.

3-D worm tracker for freely moving C. elegans.

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X-ray Imaging Center, Pohang University of Science and Technology, Pohang, South Korea.


The manner in which the nervous system regulates animal behaviors in natural environments is a fundamental issue in biology. To address this question, C. elegans has been widely used as a model animal for the analysis of various animal behaviors. Previous behavioral assays have been limited to two-dimensional (2-D) environments, confining the worm motion to a planar substrate that does not reflect three-dimensional (3-D) natural environments such as rotting fruits or soil. Here, we develop a 3-D worm tracker (3DWT) for freely moving C. elegans in 3-D environments, based on a stereoscopic configuration. The 3DWT provides us with a quantitative trajectory, including the position and movement direction of the worm in 3-D. The 3DWT is also capable of recording and visualizing postures of the moving worm in 3-D, which are more complex than those in 2-D. Our 3DWT affords new opportunities for understanding the nervous system function that regulates animal behaviors in natural 3-D environments.

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